As a huge wildfire in Canada continues to devastate a large forest near the city of Fort McMurray and displace an estimated 80,000 families from their homes, James Taylor has announced he'll perform two concerts in Alberta in June, with proceeds from tickets to be donated to the Canadian Red Cross to help victims. "This is a major national catastrophe that's just impossible to ignore," Taylor says. "It's really a part of human nature to respond to things like this by wanting to lend a hand if you can. You'd like to feel as though people would be there for you if you were in a similar situation," he added. Taylor says the idea came from conversations with his Canadian manager Sam Feldman as he arrived for a 15-concert tour of Canadian cities over the next month. He said the two shows would raise "at least a quarter of a million, maybe a $100,000 more than that." The benefit concerts are set for Calgary on June 7 and Edmonton on June 8. - AP, 5/9/16...... Gene Simmons is apologizing for comments he made during a recent interview with Newsweek in which he blamed Prince for ending his own life with drugs and alcohol. "But how pathetic that he killed himself," Simmons told the media outlet. "Don't kid yourself, that's what he did. Slowly, I'll grant you... but that's what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death." Simmons also told Newsweek that he has never been "high or drunk in my life," with the exception of a "dentist's chair where they knock you out." "I can almost understand drinking or getting high if it made my schmeckel bigger, or made me smarter, but nothing happens," he said. After a swift and furious fallout from Prince fans as well as Simmons' own Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley, who described Simmons' remarks as "cold" and "clueless," Simmons took to Twitter to apologize for the outburst, blaming his "big mouth" and admitting he "didn't express myself properly." "I just got such sh-- from my family for my big mouth again. I apologize - I have a long history of getting very angry at what drugs do to the families/friends of the addicts. I get angry at drug users because of my experience being around them coming up in the rock scene," Simmons posted. He also placed some of the blame on reporters who he accused of "quote-mining things l've said in the past and applying it to new situations." "It doesn't make my past quotes any more tactful, but still -- be wary of click bait. The uglier they can make it seem, the more views they will get," he said. - Billboard, 5/11/16...... In related news, the Minnesota House of Representatives has introduced a new bill named the PRINCE Act (Personal Rights in Names Can Endure Act), which would protect usage of a deceased person's likeness -- including their name, image and voice -- for 50 years after the person's death. The May 9 legislation is intended to give extended control to the person's estate, and similar laws already exist in 17 US states. Hearings were set for May 10 and May 11, and the law must be passed within the next two weeks to come into action. Although Prince has no known children, it was recently reported that upwards of 700 people are claiming to be entitled to a share of his estate. Meanwhile, Prince's family members say they are planning an official memorial service "in the near future." In a statement, the family said that "since Prince influenced so many people that we feel inspired to celebrate his life and legacy in just the right way." Prince died on Apr. 21 at his Paisley Park home and recording complex in suburban Minneapolis, and the cause of death remains under investigation. - New Musical Express/AP, 5/10/16...... Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon Osbourne has responded to reports about an apparent tiff between her longtime rock star hubby that reportedly caused her to kick him out of their home amid rumors that he had cheated on her with celebrity hairdresser Michelle Pugh, or possibly relapsed back into substance abuse. On May 10 on the CBS morning show The Talk which she co-hosts, Sharon said that she had indeed kicked Ozzy out of the house, but right now "he's back and I'm out of the house." Sharon says although she is still on speaking terms with Ozzy, she hasn't yet decided on her next move. "I don't know where I'm going, who I'm going with," she later told US Weekly. "And I just need time to think. And really think about myself, about what do I really want because I'm 63 years of age and I can't keep living like this," she added. The previous day, Ozzy released a statement saying the disagreement with Sharon had nothing to do with a drug relapse, telling E! News that "I have been sober for three and a quarter years." Osbourne said he still plans to honor a public appearance on May 12, where he's promised a "very special announcement" alongside Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor. Ozzy and Sharon, who have been married almost 34 years, split previously in 2013 when Ozzy's drug and alcohol habits became too much for Sharon, though she took him back after he sought treatment. - Billboard, 5/10/16...... An original UK pressing of David Bowie 1969 self-titled second album (later renamed Space Oddity) has fetched $6,826 (£4,722) in a recent auction on the record collectors' website Discogs.com. "Finding a good copy of the first UK pressing of [Bowie's] album is no easy feat. Is it almost $7k difficult? Maybe not," reads an announcement on the website's blog. The post also noted that the buyer of the record was anonymous: "I'm not sure where this expensive record is going. I don't know who is looking after it now. But I hope, wherever it is, it's being treasured in whatever way the buyer finds appropriate." - NME, 5/11/16...... Journey guitarist Neal Schon says he'd have to give serious thought before participating in any Journey induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "After reading and talking to Steve Miller about what went on with him and how it was not a good experience, I don't really care right now one way or the other," Schon recently told Billboard. "I'd have to see what the situation is for real. I'm not about to pay money to anybody to get in anywhere. I would never do that. And at this point there's so many people in there that are not even rock 'n' roll, I don't really care about being in there at all." Miller, who was formally inducted during a ceremony in April, alleges that the organization only provided tickets for he and his wife, and wanted his band members to pay $10,000 a piece to watch the ceremony. "It's not going to make or break my life for who I've come as an artist or a person," Schon added. "I'm like an aspiring artist that needs to move forward and you don't move forward by settling in on what you've attained in your past. I think you're only as good as what you are right now." But Schon acknowledged that Journey is considered by some to be one of the RRHOF's greatest slights, and he would be eager to please the band's many fans. Schon says that [former Journey vocalist] Steve Perry has not wanted to do it until Perry releases his new solo record, which is supposed to come out later in 2016 and he's hearing that Journey is "supposed to get in this year." Meanwhile, Journey is prepping for the kickoff of a summer tour with the Doobie Brothers that gets underway on May 12. The band is also planning a symphonic album, building off a charity concert it performed on June 20, 2015, with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. As for a studio followup to its last album, 2011's Eclipse, Schon says "there's no reason to do it... Nothing is going on in records and you'll never sell any records and you won't get played on the radio.'" - Billboard, 5/9/16...... AC/DC performed with its new frontman Axl Rose for the first time on May 7 in Lisbon, Portugal. Kicking off with "Rock Or Bust," the Aussie headbangers plowed through a 22-song setlist that also included the first live performance of "Rock 'n' Roll Damnation" for 13 years and "Riff Raff," which hasn't been played since 1996. Axl Rose, who is recovering from a recent leg injury which also affected his planned Guns N' Roses reunion shows, performed seated on a "throne." The band currently has 12 European live dates booked in for May and June, including two UK shows in London on June 4 and Manchester on June 9. Rose will then rejoin Guns N' Roses for their "Not In This Lifetime" North American tour, which runs from June 23 - Aug. 22. - New Musical Express, 5/8/16...... Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced on May 9 that they'll be extending their summer The River tour into the fall. Eight additional dates in August and September, including East Rutherford, N.J. (8/23, 25), Chicago (8/28), Washington, D.C. (9/1), Virginia Beach, Va. (9/3), Philadelphia (9/7), and Pittsburgh (9/11) will be played, before the tour wraps on Sept. 14 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The band's recent 36 dates grossed $75,956,686, with 581,619 national ticket sales. Before then, it will play a string of European dates, which kick off May 14 in Barcelona. - Billboard, 5/9/16...... The Who vocalist Roger Daltrey announced on May 9 that the band plans to lauch a limited edition champagne to mark the band's 50th anniversary. The bubbly, entitled Champagne Cuve Roger Daltrey, will be available to purchase beginning in June for £95, with a percentage of the proceeds will go to Teen Cancer America, which was founded by the band. "I am very excited to have this opportunity to express my passion for champagne through this limited edition cuve. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do," Daltrey said. A limited-edition ice bucket, made by L'Orfvrerie d'Anjou, will also be made available. Like the bottle itself, the buckets are moulded and decorated with The Who bullseye as well as Daltrey's signature. The champagne ice bucket is available in ten colours in a limited edition, each of which is numbered and priced at £650. More information can be found at Eminent-life.com. - NME, 5/9/16...... Neil Young launched his new live album EARTH at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles on May 6 by channeling John Lennon. "Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream," Young told the audience before playing EARTH in its entirety. The tracks on the LP feature nature-inspired sounds, including bears, birds, crickets, bees, horses and cows, as well as city noises, such as car horns, which the Canadian singer/songwriter has described as "sounds of the earth." The album also includes recording's from Young's 2015 "The Monsanto Years" tour, as well as highlights from his extensive back catalog, with new musical overdubs added to the mixes. The album will hit stores on June 17 (in an Instagram post, Young said that it "does not fit on iTunes"), and fans will be able to stream the record on Young's streaming service Pono. - NME, 5/7/16...... After fans of The Doors marked up a scenic cave on the California coast with psychedelic graffiti, authorities have closed the cave indefinitely for cleanup. The trend began with a social media myth that late Doors frontman Jim Morrison wrote songs in Corral Canyon Cave in Malibu Creek State Park, and although the popular hiking spot always had some vandalism, it has recently spiraled out of control and the cave now looks almost tie-dyed with multicolored swirls inside and out. Doors lyrics such as "love me 2 times" and "try to set the night on fire" are scrawled on its walls. There also are declarations like "Use your third eye" and "Try LSD," along with more crude tags. "It exploded over last summer, and graffiti has been increasing ever since," California State Parks District Superintendent Craig Sap says. "People are posting pictures of the cave 30 or 40 times a day." The now-closed cave will be blasted with walnut shells, which will clean off the graffiti without damaging the rock walls. The cleanup will cost $40,000, and there's no word on when hikers can head back to it. Sap added that it is a misdemeanor to go to the cave, with a fine of nearly $400, and a felony to spray-paint on it. - AP, 5/6/16...... Evidence relating to claims of sex abuse by British pop singer Cliff Richard have reportedly been passed from police to prosecutors, according to the UK paper The Guardian. Richard, 75, had been interviewed "under caution" by authorities in 2014 following allegations of a sex crime involving a young boy in the 1980s, but he was not arrested or charged. The "Devil Woman" singer was then interviewed again in 2015 year by police investigating alleged sexual assaults. Richard has denied any wrongdoing, and described the allegations as "absurd and untrue." - NME, 5/10/16..... Scott Bennett, a keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist known for his work with Brian Wilson, was convicted of rape by instrumentation and sexual battery on Apr. 29 after a week-long trial at Rogers County District Court in Claremore, Okla. Bennett was found guilty of raping a then 21-year-old woman at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa in December 2014. Video footage described by the prosecutor as "very, very disturbing" was shown to the jury during the trial. The jury has recommended a two-year sentence for the sexual battery charge and three-year sentence for rape by instrumentation, and Bennett's attorney Shannon McMurray has said her client, who has denied sexual intercourse occurred, intends to appeal the conviction. Bennett has worked with Brian Wilson since 1998, touring live with the Beach Boys legend as well as co-writing and co-producing his solo albums. His latest recording credit was on Wilson's 2015 album No Pier Pressure. - NME, 5/9/16...... Blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa will perform a free "invitation only" concert at the legendary Cavern Club venue in Liverpool on June 27, as a "thank you" to all the fans that have helped his career grow from playing small clubs to sold-out arena tours worldwide. Bonamassa will pay homage to the music of such fellow guitar legends as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page during an intimate concert in front of 300 people. He'll be previewing material that he will perform at five special concerts in the UK this July -- in Lancashire (7/2), Glasgow (7/3), Bristol (7/5), Greenwich (7/7) and Nottinghamshire (7/8). "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me," Bonamassa says. "I'm so excited to be performing the British Blues Explosion concerts for very first time at the Cavern Club, the same venue where the Beatles first played. It's the perfect venue for me to showcase the music of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Page. I hope my fans will get a kick out of it as much as I do." - Noble PR, 5/9/16...... Veteran character actor William Schallert, best known as the dad on The Patty Duke Show, died on May 8 in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 93. A familar face to TV and movie fans across several generations, Mr. Schallert also appeared in such sitcoms and series as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Leave It to Beaver, The Waltons, The Twilight Zone, The Wild Wild West, Get Smart and Hawaii Five-O. He also earned a spot in the Star Trek hall of fame for his role as Nilz Baris in the popular episode from the original series, "The Trouble with Tribbles." Mr. Schallert later turned up as Baris in the Deep Space Nine hour Trials and Tribble-ations, and then in another guest star role as Varani in the DS9 episode Sanctuary. But his role as patriarch Martin Lane on the popular 1960s sitcom The Patty Duke Show was among his most memorable, and it landed him on TV Guide's 2004 list of the 50 Greatest TV Dads. Born on July 6, 1922, Mr. Schallert began his career with film roles in the 1940s and worked fairly consistently through 2014, appearing in recent shows including 2 Broke Girls, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother and My Name is Earl. Most recently, he appeared on shows like True Blood, in which he played Mayor Norris. Mr. Schallert was the head of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979-1981, also establishing the committee for Performers with Disabilities during his time in office. He is survived by his wife Leah Waggner and their four children. - CNN, 5/9/16.
The Rolling Stones released a statement on May 4 requesting presumtive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to stop playing their songs at his campaign events. In the statement, the band said they hadn't given Trump, who has played the likes of "Brown Sugar," "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Start Me Up" permission to use their music and requested "that they cease all use immediately." Other artists, including Neil Young, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, R.E.M. and Adele, have also objected to their music being played at Trump events. While Trump stopped using all of those artists' songs after the requests were made, politicians don't need an artist's permission to use their music at rallies as long as their party has a blanket license, which covers all of the music in the group's catalog. - New Musical Express, 5/4/16...... Speaking of Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith frontman wowed a sold-out crowd at Lincoln Center in New York on May 2 with a hit-packed set entitled "Steven Tyler... Out on a Limb." Two days later, Tyler announced the dates for his upcoming 19-city summer North American tour of the same name. The outing kicks off on July 2 with a show at the Venetian Theater in Las Vegas, also visiting such cities as Los Angeles (7/5), Seattle (7/8), Vancouver, B.C. (7/10), San Francisco (7/14), Phoenix (7/2), and Denver (7/23). The tour will wrap Sept. 13 at Toronto's Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. - Billboard, 5/4/16...... The Philly soul songwriting team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff are set to be honored on May 6 in Nashville, Tenn., as part of the National Museum of African American Music's "My Music Matters" Week celebration. At a gathering at Warner Music Nashville the previous evening, the duo described how they approached songwriting. "We'd just sit down every day and just talk and laugh," Kenny Gamble said. "And something might come up where we're looking at the news (and one of us would say), 'The world is so crazy, they need a love train.' Then we'd say, 'Uh oh! We got one!' So then we'd go to the piano and stomp it out." As the songwriting and production partners at Philadelphia International Records, Gamble and Huff are responsible for more than 800 mostly R&B cuts, including such classics as "Love Train," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "For the Love of Money" and "If You Don't Me By Now," and it has been estimated their music is played every 13.5 minutes somewhere in the world. - Billboard, 5/5/16...... Neil Young was among the headliners on the final day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 1. As it had during much of the festival, rain bogged down much of day seven of the festival at Fair Grounds Race Course, with Young and his backing band Promise of the Real appearing at 3:15 p.m. After ten minutes of jamming out, Young played his first song, "F--kin' Up," from his 1990 LP Ragged Glory with Crazy Horse. Other numbers included the live favorites "Love and Only Love" and "Keep On Rockin' in the Free World" before the finale, "Powderfinger." Also appearing were Mavis Staples and the event's annual closing act, Trombone Shorty. - Billboard, 5/2/16...... The planned three-day fall concert extravaganza in Indio, Calif., featuring such acts as the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the Who has been given a name, Desert Trip, and if it sells out as expected it could rake in a $50 million box-office gross. Set for Oct. 7-9 at the site of the Coachella festival, Desert Trip has a reported talent budget of over $35 million, with each day's show scheduled to start at sunset and feature a stadium-level set from each act. On the revenue side, reserved ticket prices for all three nights of the self-proclaimed "concert of the century" range from $699 to $1,599, and sources say there will be 30,000 reserved seats and 40,000 general-admission tickets, with the latter priced at $399. In early May, Dylan, McCartney, the Stones, the Who and Roger Waters all posted videos on their respective sites, making a cryptic reference to "October." The top headliners on the bill are guaranteed as much as $7 million each, with the possibility of a second weekend still being discussed. - Billboard, 5/5/16...... James Taylor helped commemorate the 125th anniversary of NYC's Carnegie Hall on May 5 by coheadlining a gala concert at the revered venue that also included performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and singer/pianist Michael Feinstein. Taylor admitted he didn't remember his first Carnegie Hall gig some 40 years ago because "we celebrated...That's why I don't remember it that well," but it was "sort of cultural sign" that he had reached a certain level of stardom. The 68-year-old singer-songwriter sang the George Harrison-penned "Here Comes the Sun" accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma and paid tribute to Prince when he inserted "purple" before "rain" in "Shower the People." - Billboard, 5/6/16...... Sony/ATV, the current music publisher of the Beatles, has licensed a song by the Fab Four for use in China for the first time ever. The band's "Hey Jude" appears in Yesterday Once More, a coming-of-age film from noted Chinese director Yao Tingting. The nearly four-minute synch, which features the two Chinese leads singing the 1968 classic in English, commanded a six-figure sum, believed to be one of the highest fees ever paid for usage in China. Sony/ATV exec Esther Friedman noted that since the film is aimed at a younger demographic with its story of high school friends grappling with the complexities of first loves, it can help introduce the Beatles' music to a new audience. "That always plays into the decision," she adds. "It was a compelling reason to say yes to this one." - Billboard, 5/5/16...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney met two African American women who helped inspire his 1968 "The White Album" track "Blackbird" for the first time in Little Rock, Ark., where his One On One U.S. played on Apr. 30. Thelma Mothershed Wair, and her friend Elizabeth Eckford, were members of the "Little Rock Nine" who were enrolled at the previously all-white Little Rock Central High School in 1957 after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional. The nine were initially prevented from entering the school when Arkansas' governor, Orval Faubus, called out the National Guard to block them before Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to ensure they could attend classes. The students were credited with introducing a young McCartney to the civil rights struggle and inspiring the poignant lyrics to "Blackbird." "Incredible to meet two of the Little Rock Nine--pioneers of the civil rights movement and inspiration for Blackbird. pic.twitter.com/QrnOQnqrFX," McCartney posted on Twitter on May 1. As Paul's tour visited Minneapolis on May 4, the Beatles legend paid tribute to Prince by covering "Let's Go Crazy" in the late music icon's hometown. During the first gig of a two-night stand at the Target Center, Macca told the crowd, "Thank you Minneapolis, thank you Prince," after ripping off a double-time version of "Let's Go Crazy" in front of a projection of Prince's iconic love symbol. Earlier in the show McCartney announced he was dedicating the show to Prince and described spending New Year's Eve with the "Purple Rain" singer at a show in St. Barts. "I've been a fan of Prince's a long time, and I've been to many of his concerts in London," McCartney said. "But I was very lucky this New Year's Eve. He played a little show in a little club, and I happened to be there, so we saw the new year in together. It was beautiful. God bless you, Prince!" - Billboard, 5/2/16...... Meanwhile, Prince's 1984 song "Purple Rain" has topped Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart for the week dated May 14 after his unexpected Apr. 21 passing. Other Prince songs also appear in the top 10, including "When Doves Cry" (No. 2), "Little Red Corvette" (No. 4), "Let's Go Crazy" (No. 5), "Darling Nikki" (No. 9) and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony rendition of the Beatles's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (No. 10). Prince has also set a record on the Billboard charts by being the first act to concurrently chart five albums in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 200 since the list merged its previously separate mono and stereo albums charts into one overall list in 1963. The artist is found at Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 with The Very Best of Prince, Purple Rain, The Hits/The B-Sides, Ultimate and 1999, respectively. In total, Prince has a record 19 albums on the list. - Billboard, 5/5/16...... A new documentary based on music mogul Clive Davis's 2013 New York Times-bestselling memoir The Soundtrack of My Life will feature contributions from such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Pattie Smith and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir. A sneak peak of Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives was presented in the form of a 10-minute reel of early footage from the film on Apr. 16 at New York's Cutting Room during a first-ever Arista Records reunion party of artists Davis had signed when he helmed the label. "It's very special to see because I didn't know who [would participate] in the film," Davis, 84, said at the event. - Billboard, 5/5/16...... Pink Floyd announced on May 6 that they will reissue their entire back catalog on vinyl this summer, starting in June with the first four full-length Floyd LPs (1967's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets, 1969's More soundtrack and the Ummagumma double album). These will be released on 180-gram vinyl on June 3, with the original packaging replicated for each release. The rest of the band's discography will be reissued at several intervals throughout 2016 on the band's own Pink Floyd Records, in association with Columbia Records. - New Musical Express, 5/6/16...... Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose appeared with members of AC/DC for the first time in a promotional video in advance of the group's debut show together in Lisbon, Portugal on May 7. Seated on high stools in a large rehearsal space/airplane hangar, the trio gave a very brief preview of their unlikely union in the 17-second clip. "Lisbon here we come," said AC/DC guitarist Angus Young. "You know we're really excited to be here in Portugal. We're here to give you a great rock show so we hope to see you all there." Rose sat silent as Young talked then, after an awkward pause, added "absolutely, we're very excited to be there." AC/DC's Cliff Williams then chimed in with, "we'll see you on Saturday!" The concert markes the first time Rose will take the stage with the Aussie hard rockers, standing in for singer Brian Johnson, who is sitting out the remainder of AC/DC's Rock or Bust world tour after doctors advised him against performing over fears that he could suffer permanent hearing loss. Current plans calls for Rose to play 12 European dates with AC/DC before the band returns to Australia to prep for its summer Not In This Lifetime stadium tour. Meanwhile, around 7,000 AC/DC fans in Belgium have reportedly requested a refund for an AC/DC concert in Werchter on May 16 due to being unhappy with Rose replacing the ailing Johnson in the band. The local newspaper De Standaard reported that 7,000 tickets were refunded for the gig and placed on sale again. - Billboard/NME, 5/5/16...... Organizers of the upcoming Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in England have announced they will erect a David Bowie/Alladin San-inspired lightning bolt over the Pyramid Stage as the fest takes place over the fourth weekend in June. This follows a previous announcement in February that an entire set of Bowie's 2000 Glastonbury set will be screened for the crowd, and fans are also planning a "mass singalong" to pay homage to Bowie. On June 25, an orchestral tribute to Bowie set to a light show is also planned. Plans are also in the works for a Glastonbury tribute to Prince. - Billboard, 5/5/16..... In other David Bowie news, fans are still uncovering hidden secrets in the singer's swan song LP, Blackstar, four months after its release. Under certain conditions, the black paper beneath the vinyl LP cover’s cut-out star design alters to reveal a smattering of stars in a black sky, as if from an actual NASA photograph. Fans began to post their discovery on social media, and Bowie’s son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, shared it with the masses. - Billboard, 5/4/16...... Speaking at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles on May 3, Cher told the audience she thinks "our government can't find its ass with both hands, and a map and a GPS." But Cher, who is generally perceived as a liberal, acknowledged that she trusts government more than private business when it comes to water. "It was just, 'we need to make money. These people are poor, so we don't care'," Cher said in reference to the current water crisis in Flint, Mich. Cher, who tweeted in January that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is "a murderer who should be executed," said at the conference that those remarks may have "jumped the shark," and merely said that Gov. Snyder is "not part of the solution" while praising Flint mayor Karen Weaver, who was unable to attend the event due to a meeting with Pres. Barack Obama. - Billboard, 5/4/16...... A bluegrass version of the J. Geils Band classic "Love Stinks" is just one of the welcome surprises on former frontman Peter Wolf's latest solo LP, A Cure for Loneliness. A superbly rugged album that rambles through various strains of roots music, the set also has Wolf infusing it all with his own lanky-boned rock & roll spirit. Highlights include "It's Raining," an R&B ballad he wrote with the late Don Covay, and Wolf's rendition of the vintage Moe Bandy honky-tonk heartbreak lament "It Was Always So Easy to Find an Unhappy Woman," which hits the sweet spot where Nashville meets the Bronx. - Rolling Stone, 4/21/16...... An attorney for rock & roll legend Little Richard is denying recent rumors on the Internet that the 83-year-old singer is in poor health and "clinging to life." "I just spoke to him today," Little Richard's attorney William Sobel told Rolling Stone. "He said, 'You know, I want you to talk to [the press] because I'm really annoyed. This thing started on Facebook. Not only is my family not gathering around me because I'm ill, but I'm still singing. I don't perform like I used to, but I have my singing voice, I walk around, I had hip surgery a while ago but I'm healthy.'" Little Richard, who was inducted into the first ever Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, has taken a step back from the limelight recently and hasn't performed live in the past two years. Also, his friend Bootsy Collins had posted on Facebook that Richard was "not in the best of health" and that he "needs our love [and] understanding right now." - NME, 5/4/16...... Dolly Parton has announced she plans to renew her vows to husband Carl Dean on the couple's 50th wedding anniversary on May 30 in the kind of ceremony the two couldn't afford the first time around. As the story goes, Parton met Dean in a Wishy Washy Laundromat on the day that Parton moved to Nashville in 1964. The two were married in Ringgold, Ga., on May 30, 1966, with only Parton's mother as a witness. Although the couple have rarely been photographed together through the years, Parton always has maintained that the two have a good marriage and Dean is simply a private person with no interest in the spotlight. Dean ran his own asphalt paving business in Nashville and rarely attended Parton's public events. Parton, who turned 70 in January, plans to sell the photos of her "wearing a beautiful wedding dress" as part of a benefit for her charity, the Imagination Library, which gives books to children each month. - USA Today, 5/5/16...... The producers of Sesame Street have threatened to send a cease and desist letter to a company for featuring Bert and Ernie in STD awareness ads. Mately, which sells at-home kits for HIV and STD testing, featured the chummy duo in an ad campaign, and the Sesame Street makers say this is an unauthorized use of their famous puppets. The company responded saying it "got the message loud and clear" and has now removed all Bert and Ernie images from its site. "There was no intent to tarnish the Sesame Street brand," it said. Previously, Sesame Street has already had to clarify that Bert and Ernie are not gay and "do not have a sexual orientation." - Jezebel.com, 5/4/16.